When the first Winter Walk took place 21 years ago, the City of Hudson was a sad, derelict Rust Belt town, prematurely declared dead by many. In the ensuing years, it has rebounded spectacularly, becoming a haven for hipsters, antiques collectors, microbrew connoisseurs and avant-garde performance artists.
Some 20,000 visitors are expected in Hudson’s historic center for Winter Walk 2017, happening from 5 to 8 p.m. on Saturday, December 2, and there’s plenty to do to keep them all busy. The festivities begin outside the historic Hudson Opera House at 327 Warren Street, where Harmony Project Hudson choristers welcome Santa Claus in his horsedrawn sleigh. Settling into his new spot in Hudson Hall’s West Room, Santa will greet visitors, listen to children’s holiday wishes and distribute a free gift-wrapped book to every child.
While waiting to meet Santa, families can view “See Me like This,” an exhibition of photographic portraits created by Valerie Shaff with the young women of Perfect 10 Hudson, on view in the Center Hall Gallery until January 21. Onstage at Hudson Hall, Washington Irving conspires with E.T.A. Hoffman in choreographer Adam Weinert’s Rip the Nut, a raucous mashup of “Rip Van Winkle” and The Nutcracker, featuring dancers Logan Kruger, Brett Perry and Emma Sandall.
Santa’s reindeer will pose for selfies with visitors while roving performers, costumed characters and Zumba flash-mobbers wander the length of Warren Street. Musicians and dancers will entertain holiday shoppers with in-store performances. Returning favorites include Sax-o-Claus, Crazy Christine the Balloon Queen, the Spinstress, the Shook Gals, Holly Andy Ivy, Bard College’s Orcapelicans, miniature horses, carriage rides and face-painting at the Bee’s Knees. Seano the Shakespearean Clown and the students of Montgomery C. Smith Middle School plan a performance that is part poetry, puppetry, parade and play.
New to Winter Walk this year is the “Where’s George the Gingerbread Man?” scavenger hunt through the shops and galleries of Warren Street’s Below Third district, and a stunning eight-foot-tall traditional Ukrainian Winter Star sculpture/installation by Ukrainian-born, Hudson-based artist Maryna Bilak Haughton. Seventh Street Park will house Santa’s Village, featuring tiny homes with festive scenes and enchanting characters, including three new cottages this year.
As the grandfather clock strikes eight o’clock, fireworks light up the winter sky from Promenade Hill, marking the official conclusion of Winter Walk and time for Santa to be on his way. But the merriment continues long into the night, with many businesses open for late-night food, drink and entertainment. For more information and an updated list of events, visit http://hudsonhall.org, or call (518) 822-1438.